Police on Operations ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’ examine sadistic killing of young boy
By Mark Conrad | 11 January 2014
Exaro can reveal how police operations that are looking at historical claims of child sex abuse by political figures have turned into a murder investigation.
The Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit is investigating the brutal murder of a pre-teenage boy in a basement flat in London more than 30 years ago, according to sources close to the case.
Police believe that some of the “sex parties” were organised by Sidney Cooke, the notorious paedophile who led the ring of four who were jailed for killing Jason Swift, a 14-year-old boy, in Hackney, east London after gang raping him in 1985.
In a chilling development, the detectives are investigating whether Cooke was involved in an incident in which a pre-teen boy was strangled to death during a sustained sexual attack at the basement flat in London.
Detectives have interviewed what they believe to be a witness to the murder.
The witness was around 12 at the time, and he was also strangled and sexually abused during the three-day ordeal. The witness dates the attack as the summer of 1980 or 1981.
He told police and Exaro how Cooke abducted him and a younger boy from a fairground.
He knew Cooke as “Fairground Sid”. He said that Cooke used his job on a travelling fair to groom or abduct children by offering them sweets, free rides or turns on his “test your strength” machine.
The witness said: “It was exciting because he was making a fuss of you, and you can go on all the fairground rides – one after another.”
He said Cooke gave him and the younger boy a drugged drink, and drove them away. They awoke to find themselves chained to a bed in a “mouldy” basement.
The witness claimed that Cooke and another man repeatedly strangled him and the younger boy close to the point of death while raping them.
The other boy ended up dead, and his body was disposed of, according to the witness. “Sidney Cooke left me for dead,” he said.
A third paedophile at the property panicked after the younger boy’s killing, and helped the witness to escape.
He feels like “the one that got away,” the witness added.
He saw Cooke several times later, including in Amsterdam. He claimed that Cooke told him that he was “lucky” to have survived, and warned him that he would be killed if he ever talked about it.
Police believe that they know who the younger boy was.
Exaro is not naming the boy because his identity has not been established beyond doubt, and out of concern of raising false hopes for relatives that an unsolved murder will be resolved.
The Met’s paedophile unit is also investigating Cooke’s role in the sexual abuse and murder of other boys.
As part of the new line of enquiry, Scotland Yard is understood to be liaising with other police forces, including Thames Valley Police, which investigated Cooke after his release from prison for killing Jason Swift.
Thames Valley Police investigated Cooke’s sexual abuse of two brothers during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Cooke was given two life sentences in 1999 for those offences, but the judge ordered that he should serve a minimum of only five years.
Cooke applied for parole in 2004. It was refused, but he is understood to be able to apply again within two years. He is 86 now.
The Met is also helping Dutch police investigate allegations that Cooke sexually abused and killed boys in Amsterdam.
Scotland Yard is scoping, under ‘Operation Fairbank’, historical claims that political figures sexually abused children. It is investigating additional allegations against politicians and other prominent people under ‘Operation Fernbridge’.
In a separate operation, Leicestershire Police raided the London home of Lord Janner, formerly a prominent Labour MP, last month as part of an investigation into historical allegations of child sex abuse.
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